We Are The Willows
We Are The Willows is an orchestral indie rock band based out of South Minneapolis. The 6-piece ensemble features songwriter/frontman Peter Miller’s unique countertenor voice and guitar, supported by Jeremiah Satterthwaite (guitar/banjo), Leah Ottman (violin/voice/keys), Hilary James (cello/voice/keys), Travis Collins (bass), and Josh McKay (drums). We Are The Willows craft dynamic, intimate songs with instruments and voices combining to create energetic rhythms and intricate melodies. Their heartfelt arrangements evoke shared nostalgic feelings of love and loss.
In November of 2014 the band released Picture (Portrait) Pt. 1, based off of 350 letters written by Peter’s grandfather to his grandmother while he was stationed in the Southwest Pacific during World War II. Their correspondence inspired Peter to explore themes of family, separation, life, death, and identity in a time of national and personal crisis. The songs communicate complex ideas delivered with pop-sensible charm.
In the years since the release of Picture (Portrait) Part 1, We Are The Willows have toured across North America, playing dates with the likes of Blitzen Trapper, PHOX and S. Carey. The band have appeared at music festivals including Treefort and SXSW 2015 where they performed on multiple showcases. Part 1 has received praise from NPR, the BBC, Buzzfeed, PASTE Magazine, NOISEY, Brooklyn Vegan, Magnet Magazine, and 89.3 The Current.
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Peter Miller is the principal songwriter and lead singer of We Are the Willows. For the group's new album, Picture (Portrait), Miller wrote songs inspired by more than 350 letters sent to his grandmother, Verlie Miller, from his grandfather, Alvin Miller, during World War II. Drawing from these letters, the band explores concepts of storytelling, history, and family through workshops and performances for seniors, students and community members of all backgrounds and abilities. The band members have extensive experience as educators, working in special education and managing an elementary after school program, and have developed arts activities that facilitate participation in music and the arts and encourage self-expression and exploration.
Given the premise of this project, this album could have easily turned trite. But in the hands of Miller, already an accomplished songwriter and vocalist, it becomes a story not just about his grandparents but about anyone who has ever been pushed down into the darkness and pulled out again.
Andrea Swensson, Minnesota Public Radio
The bold, orchestral proportions of these often euphoric songs do justice to their grand themes. Records like this one don’t come around very often.